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Subject: Drying sand

Drying sand

From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl>
Date: Saturday, March 27, 2004
Douglas Sanders <dsanders [at] indianahistory__org> writes

>Deborah la Camera <dlacamera [at] mfa__org> writes
>>I am seeking thorough references to the historic use of sand as a
>>means to quickly dry fresh writing ink. In the writing of
>>manuscripts, sand was sprinkled on the wet ink of recently written
>>pages and shaken off in order to speed up drying. ...
>I think what you have may be gypsum (calcium sulphate)--often used
>as 'pounce' for writing with ink.  I have my doubts that 'sand'
>would ever be used as a pounce--it is not very absorbent, and would
>have a tendency to scratch the surface of writing papers. Pulverized
>cuttlefish bone was apparently used as well--there may be potassium
>and calcium salts in this; I am not sure of the constituent

Douglas Sanders has apparently referenced Joe Nickell's book, Pen,
Ink and Evidence, University of Kentucky Press, 1990 (where most of
what he mentions is discussed) without attribution.  Pounce and
cuttlefish bone is mentioned in Nickell's work, but were not terms
used by Deborah. Nickell also mentions clay (which may include

Citations are important, and the citations Nickell gives are
important to Deborah's research.

It is not a simple chemistry question, although the chemistry may be
simple.  Ion exchange, over time, between sulfates in iron gall ink
and clay/gypsum in the 'sand' or from hard water components in the
water which was used to produce the paper might produce the crystals
noted by Ms. Camera.

She queried me privately and I have already given her this


Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, Oregon 97217
503-735-3942 (phone/fax)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:63
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 30, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-63-006
Received on Saturday, 27 March, 2004

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